Deadlines/Brief

Music videos are so 80s/90s, right? They belong with the era when MTV screened wall-to-wall vids instead of 'reality' TV? Try telling that to the millions who bought Gangnam Style; were they really simply loving the music? 1.6bn (and still climbing) have viewed the video on YT, not to mention the many re-makes (school eg, eg2), viral ads + celeb link-ups (even political protest in Seoul) - and it doesn't matter how legit it is, this nightmare for daydream Beliebers is making a lot of money, even from the parodies + dislikes. All this for a simple dance track that wouldn't have sounded out of place in 1990 ... but had a fun vid. This meme itself was soon displaced by the Harlem Shake. Music vids even cause diseases it seems!
This blog explores every aspect of this most postmodern of media formats, including other print-based promo tools used by the industry, its fast-changing nature, + how fans/audiences create/interact. Posts are primarily written with Media students/educators in mind. Please acknowledge the blog author if using any resources from this blog - Mr Dave Burrowes

Sunday, 8 April 2012

Eval Q1 Use of conventions

Also see Chief Examiner's guide 

This question provides an easy opportunity to elevate the level of your response using theories you'll need to engage with for exam Q1a/1b; have you thought of how you can discuss genre theories here for example?

Take a moment to consider carefully the question, and the very specific terms selected:

Q1: In what ways does your media product use, develop or challenge forms and conventions of real media products?
  • it's identical to a Q you answered for AS cwk!
  • you will need to make detailed comparisons between each of your productions and existing vids, digipaks, ads (and any TV shows etc you've also referenced as influences)
  • BUT its not just how you've reflected these conventions; you may have chosen to change, undermine, flip round some of these (perhaps countertypes in place of stereotypes for example) ... maybe even seek to take an established genre in a new direction
  • the word 'rules' is NOT used. 'Conventions' means commonly occurring; frequently seen - elements which when combined help an audience to identify the genre or type of media text. Many books + articles will discuss 'rules' of a genre; what they really mean is 'conventions' - if a genre stays completely rigid it will be doomed
  • [UPDATE, 2015] I suggest a 6-step structure below, but if you feel it will save time, you could simplify this by outlining format (basic conventions of music video; look at exam Q1b guide on Media Language, eg Goodwin v Vernallis) and genre conventions, discussing as you go how yours matches up or doesn't. Intertextuality is important too ... and that is a common element of music video media language.
  • This is the most semiotics-based of the four questions.
So, this Q boils down to:

(i) demonstrating your knowledge of conventions;
(ii) providing denotation of each of your own texts;
(iii) analysing how your choices reflected or challenged conventions
(iv) summing up!

As is the case in the exam, it is crucial that you provide very precise, specific examples, using specific, precise terminology as you do so (you are marked on this in the exam, so practise using it now!).

As is the case for the Evaluation overall, you should aim to use some combination of hyperlinks, images, video and audio to ensure your post on this is multimedia and well illustrated.
You have to consider whether you'll tackle all 3 texts in a unified way, or perhaps discuss each separately.


SOME PAST STUDENTS' ANSWERS:
(A) 2010-11
EMMIE: Its an absolute no-no to jointly answer the Eval Qs; share preparation/resources, yes, just not the actual spoken/edited/written response. Emmie & Megan created 3 sep vids. Its refreshing to see something other than F6/bedroom being used as a backdrop: a tripod (or flat surface) enables you to film anywhere. They edit in useful titles + relevant images to back up their points. A really, really simple but effective aspect here is having physical mags/print-offs of their ads to hold up. They submitted multiple ads and explain why here; I repeat my exhortation to you all to do the same.
BETH: Combines a vid on the video with text/images for the ancillaries. Whats notable about the vid is that it includes screenshots from existing vids ... AND text flagging up that the vid is embedded below the vodcast itself. Its better to include vid clips, but this is a lo-fi alternative. It would have been useful to have seen links to previous R+P posts, and maybe also to create Word docs using arrows/text boxes to highlight conventions of ancillaries.
Simple but v effective means of reflecting use of conventions
EMMA: The Eval Qs are a little hard to find: the post dates do need to be tweaked to ensure they come immediately (and in order) the final cuts, plus 'Eval Q2' as a post title isn't helpful. Emma/Beth were a group; you can see the shared work on summarising conventions, but the actual vids are quite distinctive. Emma provides screenshots to illustrate points made on videos. You might have noticed by now the automatic zooming on many of these: the Ken Burns effect hadn't been manually switched off!
JONNY: Again, vid done as a group meant there was a real risk of exam board marking this Eval down to 0/20 - don't repeat this mistake! We get another vid set somewhere other than F6/bedroom, with images to complement points made. Scroll down and I think you'll be impressed at the level of textual detail below the vid (which, even so, should have included clearer specific vid examples for each point!!!). I've re-embedded an image which neatly captured how their mise-en-scene was influenced (by a film in this case). Also note the clear sub-headings, blank lines between points and basically nice, clean user-friendly layout. YouTube's annotation tool was also used.
CHRIS: Chris' post labels were confusing, and he actually did TWO posts for Q1, not a good idea (this is the 2nd post). His vid contains video clips, generally much more useful than mere screenshots, but also contains blank screen at times, which should be avoided.

(B) 2011-12
With these examples I'll be less detailed than above: they're all high level excellent, and from different groups except for Rob/Will: Faye + Tom each got 19/20; Gina, Rob + Will each got 20/20.
So, they're all useful to look at. I've embedded just one below, Rob's video, which is impressively thorough, specific and well illustrated, and makes great use of the tools YouTube offers (eg, at the start he gives viewers a chance to skip ahead by clicking on a link box within the video). He presents the video in a relaxed, informal way too, and starts by setting out the structure of the video and what it contains (the order of what he will look at).




6 STEPS TO AN EXCELLENT ANSWER
Here's how I suggest you work on this Q.
You could simplify this by discussing your work as you go through conventions (media language) of the format and the more specific (sub-)genre/artist conventions. In some cases a specific director's style will also be relevant. Intertextuality, whether from other videos or other media formats, is important to note ... and should be included in any list of video conventions!!!

STEP 1: DEFINE CONVENTIONS OF 'FORMAT'
The words format and genre aren't used in the question, but its useful to tackle both. by format I mean music vid/digipak/mag ad [hereafter: MV/D/Ad] - the type of text/part of a text. Never mind specific genres, what do we expect to see from MV/D/Ads generally?
What I'm saying here is DON'T START WITH A FOCUS ON GENRE.
In any combination (work across groups!) or by yourself, list the relevant features of any 5-10 MV/D/Ads from genres other than the one you're working in! Simply list the features, don't waste time analysing their meaning (connotations). From this, create a list (perhaps the top 5 or 10) of the key conventions of MV/D/Ads.

For digipaks/ads, this is straightforward, and you should be able to draw upon prior research to set out the common conventions of these formats. Illustrate your points with images of actual examples.
For music vid you should be noting (and discussing, where appropriate the absences of) aspects such as:
  • diegetic intro/outros
  • titles (rare, other than info added by TV channels?)
  • is there an equivalent to the establishing shot (typically ELS) which opens many films/TV shows?
    • perhaps enigma codes are more prevalent?
  • likewise, any notable trend for the final, closiong shot? (fade out?)final shot of opening sequence (do more titles/main title follow? fade out?)
  • shot types + variation
  • continuity editing (eg following 180degree rule?)?
  • focus on a main character ['mode of address']? (pro/antagonist?) PoVs?
  • mise-en-scene + verisimilitude
  • sound/music (non-/diegetic)
  • editing
  • narrative (which part/s of Todorov's structure: equilibrium, dis-equilibrium, new equilibrium?) do we usually get narrative closure or not?; use of binary opposition; exposition (dialogue, titles on screen, mise-en-scene etc); stereo/arche/counter-typical characters. Is it linear, non-linear or a mix of both?
Work through your examples and note the commonly recurring aspects (ie conventions) - these might be seen in some, but not all (again, not 'rules'). Its advisable to limit this to a top 10 (or other number).

STEP 2: COMPARE YOUR TEXT TO GENERAL CONVENTIONS OF MVid/Dpak/MagAd
You could do this in a table ... or podcast, video...
Stills/video/audio of existing text/your text will definitely help (you can easily import and work with stills in iMovie/Final Cut to create impressive vids; simply record a voiceover and edit in!).
Basically, work through the conventions you've noted, and discuss how and why your text does(n't) match up to these conventions. A brief summary would be useful.

STEP 3: SUMMARISE KEY GENRE CONVENTIONS
This should be easy as it should already be covered within your R+P!!!!
A list of bullet points, with 1+ specific eg for each one, would be an idea.
You might want to get into the concept of genre; there is a links list on this, and plenty of useful material in various books (not least the official OCR AS Media Studies student book) in F6/Lib. Use materials from exam Q1b work (not just on genre) - think about representations (cast, clothing, setting...); editing + pace; shot types + framing; SFX; mise-en-scene...
Again, you could do a simple table to compare yours to these, but perhaps better is to...

STEP 4: EVALUATE YOUR TEXT AGAINST GENRE CONVENTIONS
You could use each listed convention as a sub-heading (or section in a video).
IT IS NOT A PROBLEM IF YOUR TEXT DOES NOT MEET EVERY CONVENTION!!!
Just discuss why you have opted against using some features (you might conclude that you should have; being honest will not lose you marks!).
Remember: specific, precise well-illustrated examples using specific, precise media language!

STEP 5: DID AudFdbk MATCH UP TO YOUR PREFERRED READING?
Again, do be honest! As there's a specific question on this later, be brief.
Did test audiences respond in the way you'd hoped? Did they follow your encoded meaning, what Stuart Hall describes as the preferred reading?
Did your test auds always say your text/s reflected conventions or where there any comments made about aspects which didn't
You could incorporate points on this into previous sections of your answer
YOU SHOULD MAKE SOME REFERENCES TO DRAFTS AS WELL AS FINAL VERSIONS, AS PART OF EXPLAINING/JUSTIFYING FINAL VERSIONS

STEP 6: REFLECTION + SUMMARY
Summarise your findings, but also answer this:
what challenges or limitations did you face as a student filmmaker, and from working within a (small!) group? If you had greater time + resources, is there anything you'd change (explain why if so)? Was the brief itself (and perhaps the assessment criteria) problematic?
Overall, did your text (consider each separately, bearing in mind that Q2 focusses on how they combine as a package) largely reflect or develop or challenge conventions? Why? In retrospect, do you now think you should have changed any aspect of the media language you used to more/less closely reflect conventions? Do you wish you had challenged/reflected conventions more? What problems did you face if you developed/challenged conventions in any major regard?
have you grasped every opportunity to be creative within this brief? did you for example follow U2/Pixies (+ many others') examples + create a single-shot vid?!? (here's GG's eg!) multiple ads?

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